CSKA beat Astana on the road – 93:60 (30:15, 20:14, 22:23, 21:8).
Astana: Michael Thompson (17), Jeremiah Hill (12 + 6 assists).
CSKA: Mike James (21 + 10 assists), Nikola Milutinov (15 + 12 rebounds), Joel Bolomboy (15 + 8 rebounds).
It was the first game for Astana and CSKA this season and first official game since March when the championship was suspended. For the hosts it became even more harder because the team has renewed significantly in offseason as usual – team chemistry isn’t established yet. CSKA started with 6-0 run started by Joel Bolomboy, then the star Tornike Shengelia scored his first points in the League but Astana kept up with favourite via Michael Thompson’s long-range shots (10:16).
New Red-Blue wave began after Semen Antonov 3-pointer and then one more star rookie scored his first points – Nikola Milutinov. He became the hero of the first half. The Serbian helped guests finish first quarter with 14:5 run – it was 30:15 on the scoreboard, and then he continued to dominate in the second quarter. 11 points and 6 rebounds with 3 of 4 from the field in 10 minutes symbolized Russian team advantage on the boards (23-11) and field goal percentage (53-41). By the half break CSKA were up by 21 – 50:29.
All Astana hopes to start the chase in the third were destroyed by Mike James who scored 15 of 19 team points in 6 minutes (69:43). In the remaining time CSKA continued to control the game, they started the season with confident win (93:60).
Nikola Milutinov. The center debuted for CSKA with double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) and met fans’ expectations – there is a new serious force in the paint. The Serbian was the main hero in the first half when CSKA gained significant lead.
Mike James not was only scoring points but giving out assists getting first double-double for CSKA in United League games.
Astana head coach Emil Raikovikj:
– Congratulations to CSKA, at the moment teams are on completely different levels. We hadn’t much time to prepare, only 2 weeks of practices. Besides, we lost Adonis Thomas and two more players that haven’t played tonight. Martins Meiers arrived yesterday so you could note that he isn’t in perfect shape. The only positive point is that our Kazakhstan players had more minutes on the court and some of them did nice job out there. For instance, Ruslan Aitkali proved himself tonight. However, the most important thing is that after 190 days we finally play basketball.
CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
– Congratulations to team on the victory. We knew about Astana’s problems with foreigners that joined the team late. I respect this team a lot and wish them luck. We had our own tasks in defence tonight and we haven’t accomplished it, especially in the third quarter that we lost 22:23. It means that we have some work to be done. We allowed 60 points but we had obvious defensive mistakes. Tonight we were better but we have lots of work.
Astana: October 3 vs UNICS
CSKA: September 26 at PARMA